Motion on “Promoting the Popularization of Electric Vehicles” (2018.04.12)

MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): The Government started to promote vigorously the use of electric vehicles (“EVs”) by members of the public in about 2009 and many measures were being introduced. The issue was also being strongly debated at the Legislative Council then. Very regrettably, Hong Kong only has 11 000 EVs till now which accounted for 1% of the total number of vehicles in Hong Kong, it is really disappointing.

The development of EVs is not satisfactory as there are still many issues that cannot be properly resolved, particularly the issue of charging facilities. At present, newly completed buildings are required to install charging facilities in the parking spaces in car parks in order for all to be granted exemption for inclusion as gross floor area. More than 40 000 parking spaces with charging facilities had been approved in the past seven years. Definitely, it may be more directly effective if the original proposal of amending the legislation to make it mandatory for all parking spaces in new buildings to be provided with adequate charging facilities was adopted. Actually, the most annoying issue now is that old buildings will face a lot of problems including legal, financial and technical ones if they are required to install charging facilities, thus making it unachievable for many of the buildings.

I am the Chairman of the Owners’ Committee (“OC”) of a large housing estate on the Hong Kong Island. Our estate has 3 000 parking spaces. We have been bothered by the issue of installing charging facilities for years and just examining the feasible options took over two years, which included the pricing and legal issues generated by letting private parking spaces using public power supply system. The processes are quite complicated. I can share with you on this. Several years ago, since many of the residents requested to install charging facilities in the parking spaces, the OC began to look into it. It was originally thought to be very simple. Upon understanding the issue, we find that the existing power supply capacity is limited, if it is not upgraded, each cark park can only install about 20-odd charging facilities. It basically fails to cope with the needs. However, if more facilities are to be installed, the overall power supply facilities will have to be upgraded.

However, upgrading the overall power supply facilities is never simple. Our housing estate has four phases of multi-storey residential flats and each stage of the project will cost more than $1 million while the electrical cords will have to be further connected so that the charging facilities can be installed upon completing the project. In view of the “user pays” principle, the owners will have to pay a sum of several ten thousand dollars for installing the charging facilities in addition to considering the legal and technical issues, the related works has therefore been repeatedly delayed. Fortunately, the electricity company offers consultancy services on charging recently and puts forth new plans allowing the owners of parking spaces to apply to the consultant firm directly and all the works will be undertaken by the consultant firm. The owners will be responsible for their own fees, the OC will only need to monitor without directly getting involved, so a lot of problems are avoided.

As a matter of fact, though we are a relatively large housing estate, moreover, the owners are willing to pay for their own installation costs while the OC and the management company are also working with drive, we have to spare substantial time and effort to resolve the problems. If for those smaller or old housing estates, or those Incorporated Owners of buildings which simply do not want to take care of it, it is believed that the introduction of charging facilities will surely be more difficult. Therefore, I think that if the Government wants to popularize EVs, it should help the buildings in the first place to resolve the issues of installing charging facilities and provide more assistance, or even provide financial incentives directly in order to expedite the progress of installing charging facilities for existing buildings. I believe when these problems are resolved, EVs can really be popularized.

On the other hand, some problems will inevitably be generated when we promote the popularization of EVs, the Government should promptly propose solutions to avoid creating new social problems. The most basic one is the disposal problem for waste batteries. As the batteries for EVs have to be replaced after using for several years, the popularization will inevitably lead to the presence of huge amount of discarded batteries that were being replaced. These batteries contain heavy toxins that will harm the environment but the Government still fails to come up with good disposal policies. Hence, the Government has to put forth battery recovery and disposal policies, for example, requiring the manufacturers to propose comprehensive improvement measure so that the popularization and use of EVs can be realized.

The other problem is the issue of abandoned old vehicles. If EVs are successfully popularized, a large number of vehicle owners may switch to use EVs within a few years, i.e. a large amount of old fuel-consuming vehicles will be replaced. No matter these vehicles will be diverted to the second hand market or be abandoned, a lot of problems may arise. The Government should evaluate the situation first and propose solutions beforehand. We must work out proper complementary policies, otherwise, even if EVs can be successfully popularized, the environment of Hong Kong will unavoidably be victimized.

I so submit.

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